Economic Buzzwords
Author: Wendy Goubej
Publish date:
Summary: What is the Papacy really saying in its encyclicals?

There are several words that crop up often in the speeches and writings of the Roman Church on economics. However, these words don't necessarily mean what we think they mean.

“Reason,” “natural law,” and “human rights” are three of these key terms. The Pope said that human rights, “are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts.”i So what is natural law?

In The Chronicle Review: a Chronicle of Higher Education, Alan Wolfe, Jewish Professor at Boston College writes this:

Michelle and Barack Obama with Pope Benedict XVI, 2009. Public Domain.

Among Catholic intellectuals, as well as some who are not Catholic, the most important Catholic inheritance is the natural law tradition, which is premised on the idea that there are certain truths in the world that remain true irrespective of whether the laws and conventions of any particular society adhere to them. At its worst, belief in natural law can lead to ideological rigidity and inflexible inhumanity.ii

According to Wolfe, natural law is deeply linked to humanity's ability to reason:

Catholics are likely to hold that the truth of God’s existence must mean the truth of man’s reason, art’s beauty, and morality’s universality.iii

In other words, humanity’s reason is unfallen. God’s existence and humanity’s reason, as well as art’s beauty and morality’s universality, are equally unfallen. By reason we can change things.

In Facts for the Times, Pope Nicholas is quoted to have said: “The Pope’s will stands for reason. He can dispense above the law; and of wrong make right, by correcting and changing laws” (emphasis added).iv

So the Pope’s will is equal to reason.

Is this Biblical? Roman Catholic natural law is derived from the premise that reason is unfallen. Protestant law of nature embodies reason subdued by the Bible.

The Bible tells us that the whole head is sick (Isaiah 1:5), that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), that in our flesh there dwelleth “no good thing” (Romans 7:18), and that by our own selves, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

But the Roman Catholic Church says that the Pope is the superior—that he can correct the apostles and free himself from the Word.

If the Pope’s will stands for reason, who will be the one deciding what is reasonable? It will be the Pope, of course, who rules by divine right and considers himself equal to God Himself.

Let's read some of these buzzwords in their context.

Catholic Morality

Richard M. Gula, Professor of Moral Theology at the St. Patrick’s Seminary in California, wrote this in his book Reason Informed by Faith—Foundations of Catholic Morality:

Natural law is central to Roman Catholic theology...The advantage of using natural law is that the church shows great respect for human goodness and trusts the human capacity to know and choose what is right. Also by means of appealing to natural law, the church can address its discussion and claims for the rightness or wrongness of particular actions to all persons of good will, not just to those who share its religious convictions...The magisterium has appealed to natural law as the basis for its teachings pertaining to a just society, sexual behaviour, medical practice, human life, religious freedom, and the relationship between morality and civil law...In any case, the development of natural law tradition among Christian thinkers is due not so much to the scriptures as to the influence of Greek philosophy and Roman law.v

This quotation has several points that deserve further discussion:

Natural law is central to Roman Catholic theology...

This point tells us that the words “natural law” are used when Rome is discussing a central theological issue. We need to pay attention when natural law is discussed.

...the church shows great respect for human goodness and trusts the human capacity to know and choose what is right...

The Bible doesn’t tell us that the human capacity can be trusted. Rather, doesn’t goodness come from God alone?

...the church can address its discussion and claims for the rightness or wrongness of particular actions to all persons of good will...

Note that Gula does not say that the Church can work with all persons, but only all persons of good will. Who decides who is of good will and who is not? What are the criteria?

...the development of natural law tradition among Christian thinkers is due not so much to the scriptures as to the influence of Greek philosophy and Roman law.

This statement suggests that natural law, which is central to Catholic theology and the basis of its doctrines and teachings, comes not from the Scriptures but from Greek philosophy (the leopard beast of Daniel 7) and pagan Roman law (the fourth beast of Daniel 7).

...natural law as the basis for its teachings pertaining to a just society, sexual behaviour, medical practice, human life, religious freedom, and the relationship between morality and civil law.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, all of our lives, from the justice system, to medicine, to our religious freedom, to our civil laws, and even to our right to exist, are to be based on the principles of natural law—an unBiblical doctrine.

...the church can address its discussion and claims for the rightness or wrongness of particular actions to all persons of good will, not just to those who share its religious convictions...

The aim of historical Rome, which has always been one of total global domination, is still valid today. The Catholic Church would like to be the spokesman for and to all religions, not just Catholics. Its principles of natural law are to be the controlling principles over all religions. The Pope would like to be the universal ruler and to unite all religious systems under one law, a law based on “reason,” the natural law of the Roman Catholic Church.

We see these papal plans coming to fruition in the United Nations and among religious groups around the world.

On June 29, 2009, the Pope made another speech, calling for a “God-centered” global Was he speaking of our true God? Or was he speaking of himself? In his most recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate,the Pope calls for a reform of the UN that will establish a “true world political authority” with “real teeth” to manage the global economy with God-centered ethics.vii

We should ask ourselves who this true world political authority is going to be. From ethics and human rights to the financial crisis to political authority, the head of the Roman Church has a solution for the world.



Read about papal political views in our next article


i. Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (April 18, 2008).

ii. Alan Wolfe, “The Intellectual Advantages of a Roman Catholic Education,” The Chronicle Review: a Chronicle of Higher Education (May 31, 2000).

iii. Ibid.

iv. Facts for the Times (1893): 55-56

v. Richard M. Gula Reason Informed by Faith—Foundations of Catholic Morality (Paulist Press, 2002):120-121.

vi. Cathy Lynn Grossman, "Pope calls for 'God-Centered' Global Economy," USA TODAY (July 7, 2009).

vii. Pope Benedict XVi, Caritas in Veritate (June 29, 2009).

Disclaimer: The contents of this article and website are not intended to accuse individuals. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their ability and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system that has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. Under the influence of its successive popes, bishops, and cardinals, this system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that clearly go against Scripture.
It is our sincere desire to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, so you may decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find herein anything contrary to the Word of God, you need not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure, and find herein something of that quality, we encourage you to make all haste to accept that Truth which is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.
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